I had every intention of adding to my ‘Top 5 Reasons Relationships Fail’ today, and totally plan on continuing it, but I was side tracked this morning when I took a moment out of my busy schedule to take a closer look at a friend. Patty was my student a hundred years ago. Well, not a hundred, but certainly in another lifetime. She was in 8th grade and I was her 26 year old English teacher.
Patty was the most amazing young teen, smart, talented, compassionate and beautiful inside and out. I never had any doubt she’d be a great success at what ever she chose to do in life, despite the fact that at 11 years old, she was in a terrible accident that had ripped apart the right side of her face—a lifetime scar that had wounded her soul along with her flesh. But her beauty of spirit radiated through and I felt a connection to her. I encouraged her that year and hoped she would find her passion and use the amazing gifts she possessed to pursue her dreams.
Eighth grade dissolved into high school, then college and I lost track of Patty over the years, but she had touched my heart and I often wondered what had become of her. Last year she ‘friended’ me on Facebook with an incredible email of how I had impacted her life and inspired her to go into journalism. We reminisced and she was so excited I was writing a book, she offered to help me in any way she could. Patty pulled together a photo shoot and is completely responsible for the beautiful pictures of the young woman on the beach surrounded by butterflies and starfish that I use on my website. She continued to tell me how I still inspired her with my passion and purpose and she took time away from her family and career to help me reach out and encourage others. I was so wrapped up in my own life, overwhelmed with trying to survive a relentless economy while working feverishly on book editing, unraveling the black hole of marketing, tweeting and social media, and struggling to find the courage to enter a world completely foreign to me, that I somehow missed the depth of trauma hidden under Patty’s cheerful emails and phone calls. Yesterday, when I read her FB post, I cringed at the thought of how I could have missed her hidden pain. This is what she said:
It’s funny how life is…One day you’re bankrupt, overweight, struggling to stay afloat, considering suicide b/c you don’t think you can take anymore…But you take a step forward, then another, and another…And you wake up on a beautiful Sunday with a job, a roof over your head, 31 lbs lighter…
I always saw Patty as strong, resilient and an inspiration to everyone around her. Despite her tragic past, it had never occurred to me that she struggled. It was hard for me to admit to her how damaged I had been when our paths had first crossed––especially when she told me how much I had meant to her.
But today my student is my shooting star! Not only is Patty an inspired writer, she is an amazing inspiration to every one she meets. The courage it took to share her intimate life with strangers exemplifies what I write about, and my own passion and purpose. Patty’s courage laced with humility is a page in society’s saga that spearheads the power of the ‘Butterfly Effect’. The very story she so humbly portrayed through her photo shoot. So today I share with all all my friends, Patty’s story, excerpts I hope she won’t mind that I pulled from her blog. And I will keep her story on my website as a reminder to never be so wrapped up in my own ‘stuff’ that the haze distorts my view of those around me. I encourage all of you to follow her new blog. She started it to chronicle her weight loss story, but it is truly so much more!! Patty is a shining star who makes a difference in this world and her passion is contagious. Never forget that courage is not an attribute, it is a choice to move forward despite the fears that try to limit you. If you believe in yourself, you can live your dreams.
PS. Be sure to watch today’s video . . . another inspiration who followed his dreams!